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Where to build gingerbread houses, decorate cupcakes, and make festive cookies to your heart's content. By Anna Spiegel
Decorate holiday cookies, cupcakes, and more this week. Photograph via Shutterstock.

The holidays bring out our sugar cravings, and there are plenty of opportunities to indulge this week: beer-fueled gingerbread house contests, family-friendly cupcake decorating, and all manner of sweets in between.

Gingerbread for adults: Kids don't get all the fun at the Fairmont Washington DC, which hosts a gingerbread decorating class for adults on Tuesday at 6. Guests construct sweet homes along with plenty of libations and snacks. Reservations are $85.

Gingerbread for beer lovers: Ventnor Sports Cafe hosts a spirited gingerbread house-building contest on Friday at 7, where participants compete to construct the finest dessert home while sipping 20 holiday beers (gingerbread kits are $10). The party starts at 6, and winners are announced at midnight, so be ready for the long haul. Reserve by e-mailing scott@ventnorsportscafe.com or calling 202-234-3070.

Truffle making: Head to Black's Bar & Kitchen on Saturday from 11 to 1 and learn to make chocolate truffles. The demo is followed by a three-course Champagne lunch, and includes a box of six chocolates. Reservations are $50 per person.

Georgetown cupcake class: Sisters Katherine Kallinis Berman and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne of Georgetown's famous cupcake shop lead a holiday decorating class at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown on Sunday from 2 to 4. Each guest will frost, decorate, and gift-wrap their own dozen to bring home. Reservations are $75 for persons four and older.

Gingerbread for families: Families are welcome at Brabo on Sunday, where pastry chef Erin Reed leads a gingerbread house building class from 2 to 4. All the materials are ready, and light refreshments are served. Reservations are $30 for families of three, $40 for four.

Yule log 101: Skip gingerbread houses in favor of the holiday's other traditional treat: yule log cakes. The Gaylord offers a "yule log experience" from 8:30 to 10 on several dates between now and December 27—they include a buffet breakfast, an interactive demo, and a hands-on class where guests get to take home their yule log. The all-ages course is $49.

Italian and Greek cookie class: Head to Kapnos on Saturday from 1 to 2:30 for a holiday cookie-making demonstration focused on two types: koulourakia
(braided sesame cookies) and Italian rainbow cookies. The course includes snacks, wine, and a tray of two dozen cookies ($55 per person).

Decorating party: Cork's gingerbread house decorating party returns on Saturday with sessions at 11:30 and 3:30. Adults and children are welcome to participate, with kits available for two adults or two adults and a child per house ($40 per house).

Posted at 10:45 AM/ET, 12/09/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Elegant buffets, casual meals, and family-friendly fun. By Anna Spiegel
The Four Seasons offers an even more elaborate version of its dessert display on Christmas. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

Where should you eat after unwrapping all the presents? A large number of Washington restaurants serve Christmas Eve dinner, but much fewer open for Christmas Day dining. Fortunately you'll find plenty of variety here, from elegant brunches to casual meals and prix-fixe dinners.

Blue Duck Tavern

1201 24th St., NW

The Park Hyatt's seasonal American restaurant offers an appetizer buffet with salads, raw-bar fare, charcuterie, and more, followed by a choice of plated entrées and sides. Guests return to the kitchen for a dessert display.

Details: Served 11:30 to 9; $100 for adults; $45 for children six to 12; free for children under six.

Cafe Berlin

322 Massachusetts Ave., NE

Looking for a more affordable Christmas Day option? Head to this quaint Capitol Hill German restaurant, which offers a three-course menu for $39.

Details: Served for seatings at 2, 4:30, and 7; $39 per person.

Corduroy

1122 Ninth St., NW

You won't find any high chairs in chef Tom Power's Shaw dining room, so the three-course menu is a good option for the adult crowd.

Details: $65 for three courses.

Decanter

923 16th St., NW

The upscale dining room at the St. Regis offers a three-course menu with dishes such as crabcakes with truffled celeriac, beef short ribs, and chocolate-croissant bread pudding.

Details: $85 per person.

Founding Farmers and Farmers Fishers Bakers

1924 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 12505 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac; 3000 K St., NW

Anyone looking for a more casual Christmas can head to this trio of American restaurants, which offer their regular all-day menus. A "something for everyone" approach from the kitchen also makes it a good option for families.

Details: Served noon to 8; à la carte.

The Grille at Morrison House

116 S Alfred St., Alexandria

This Federal-style mansion in Alexandria offers brunch with festive items like figgy pudding beignets, reindeer carpaccio, and corned beef hash with local eggs.

Details: Served 11 to 3; $50 per person.

Juniper

2401 M St., NW

Christmas brunch returns to the Colonnade with a festive buffet of fruits and salads, an organic egg omelet station, a dessert display, and more. Guests can also opt for a seasonal dinner menu with four courses.

Details: Brunch served 11 to 2; dinner 5:30 to 10. Brunch is $99 (includes valet parking); dinner $60 per person, or $75 with wine pairings.

Pinea

515 15th St., NW

Chef Barry Koslow's new venture in the W Hotel offers Christmas specials in addition to the regular à-la-carte menu. Festive dishes include a feast of the seven fishes in appetizer form and a goose breast entrée.

Details: Served 2 to 8; $60 prix-fixe or à la carte.

Plume

1200 16th St., NW

The Jefferson Hotel's elegant dining room offers an all-day three-course menu from chef Ralf Schlegel, including dishes such as truffle lobster bisque, roast duck, and pistachio petit gateau. The restaurant is also open for a multi-course Christmas Eve dinner.

Details: Served from 11:30 to 8:30; $98 per adult; $45 per child.

Lincoln Restaurant/Teddy & the Bully Bar

1110 Vermont Ave., NW/1200 19th St., NW

Both PRG Hospitality restaurants offer farm-to-table Christmas buffets, including carving stations with turkey, ham, prime rib, and more, plus options from the à-la-carte menus.

Details: Both serve from 1 to 8. Lincoln: $58 per person; $21 children 12 and under. Teddy: $55 per person; $21 children 12 and under.

Seasons

2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Expect a generous brunch at the Four Seasons in Georgetown with a menu of carved meats and crabcakes, an omelet station, a raw bar, and a Southern section featuring "grits, greens, and bbq."

Details: Served 10 to 3; $110 per person.

Posted at 01:41 PM/ET, 12/08/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Turkey ramen, stuffing waffles, and a bourbon-cranberry sauce cocktail. By Anna Spiegel
When life hands you extra turkey, make turkey ramen. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Everyone loves a turkey-stuffing sandwich the day after Thanksgiving. But if you're stuck with more than a single round of leftovers—or simply can't stomach the same meal for lunch—consider these delicious, creative recipes.


Bourbon-cranberry sauce cocktail [Washingtonian]

The least-versatile Thanksgiving leftover can be turned into a tasty bourbon cocktail, courtesy of barman Micah Wilder.


Turkey ramen [Bon Appétit]

Yes, this recipe requires a little more effort than stacking together a sandwich, but the payoff is worth it (especially if you're suffering from Thanksgiving flavor fatigue). Another plus: The broth can be made in advance.


Stuffing waffles [Serious Eats]

Waffle iron? Check. Leftover stuffing and gravy? Double check. Then you're ready for this recipe, which requires minimal cooking and breathes new, crispy life into your day-old stuffing. Adding a little shredded turkey on top never hurt.


Thanksgiving leftovers pot pie [Washingtonian]

This recipe from Trademark is a delicious way to utilize a whole spread of turkey, sweet potatoes, green beans, and gravy. Make sure to keep things simple by grabbing frozen puff pastry from the store.


Turkey, Brie, and apple-butter sandwiches [Food Network]

Thanksgiv-ify Tyler Florence's tasty sandwich with roast turkey, and sub in cranberry sauce if apple butter isn't part of your autumnal lineup. The melty concoction is a winner regardless.


Mashed potato cakes [Food52]

These simple pan-fried cakes make a versatile base for poached eggs, smoked fish, or, yes, more turkey.

Posted at 12:13 PM/ET, 11/25/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
The most important dos and don'ts for hosts and guests. By Anna Spiegel
Cheers to a happy Friendsgiving. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Hanging with a bunch of friends for Thanksgiving dinner can be a blast. But just because crazy Aunt Alice is out of the picture doesn't make things easy. Like any big dinner party, there are plenty of dos and don'ts for hosts and guests alike. Here are the ten most important for a successful—and worry-free—Friendsgiving.

For Hosts:

1. Accept and seek help

I promise you’ll regret saying “just yourself” when guests ask what to bring. The best Friendsgiving plan of attack is potluck-style, where the host makes the turkey—no one wants to schlep an 18-pound bird—and everyone brings a side dish, dessert, or booze.

Say you and/or your friends can do little more than microwave ramen. Turkey is like the Mount Everest of roasting—except much, much drier. Skip the headache and get a whole restaurant-prepared feast to go—here's our 2014 Turkey Day takeout guide—or supplement your centerpiece with sides and desserts. Even a spread of appetizers and snacks are a great place to outsource, as everyone can nibble happily away while tending to the main meal.


2. Inquire about allergies/dietary restrictions

No, don’t make a separate tofurkey for the one vegetarian. Sadly, though, if you want to be a good host, you’ll need to ask guests about allergies or restrictions upon invitation. Even if the whole meal doesn’t cater to their needs—and it shouldn’t—you can be mindful of omitting bacon/cheese/wheat in one or two dishes, and can always ask that they bring supplemental items.


3. Buy bulk booze

Yes, Thanksgiving can be a feel-good, homey meal. But it’s also an expensive one to prepare, especially if you're not going potluck-style. One place to save: alcohol. Unless you're asking each guest to b.y.o.—never a bad idea if they're not contributing food—opt for a case of wine. A dozen bottles may sound excessive, but it's often cheaper than grabbing a few from Whole Foods. Georgetown's "social" Safeway, for example, has great deals on cases for members (and the sign-up is free).


4. Borrow dishes

So. Many. Dishes. A full Thanksgiving spread requires a catering company's worth of pots, pans, and serving vessels. Don’t feel bad asking guests to bring gravy boats, platters, wine glasses, etc., or borrowing your friend’s cookware for advance prep.


5. Remember ice

Barbecues and copious amount of ice go hand-in-hand, but Thanksgiving? Trust me, get lots of ice. Someone will want to chill beer, another person wants ice water, a third brought pumpkin ice cream for dessert (lame) and there’s no space in the freezer. And for that matter, remember water glasses. Friendsgiving can’t be fueled on whiskey and wine alone.


For Guests:

1. Follow directions

Hosts, especially foodie hosts, tend to have menus in mind—and your grandma’s potatoes may sadly not be part of the plan. Ask what you can provide, as well as some more detailed questions. Is the meal traditional or follow another kind of cuisine? Does he/she need any vegetarian/gluten-free additions to the lineup? Once you’ve received marching orders, don’t go rogue (unless it’s the direction below).


2. But always ignore one

“Just yourself.” No, never bring just yourself, even if the host is a kitchen wiz with a stocked bar. An extra bottle of booze or wine never hurts, or opt for a flower bouquet or hostess gift if they seem truly set on alcohol. Another great addition to Friendsgiving: board games. Did someone say post-pie Jenga?


3. Be respectful about allergies/dietary restrictions

Sorry, Paleos, normal folks don’t want to prepare a Thanksgiving free of dairy, refined sugar, and most carbs, a.k.a. 99 percent of what makes Turkey Day wonderful. If you can take a break from dieting, or pick around certain items, try to stay mum about culinary quibbles. On the flip side, a conscientious host will be horrified that you never mentioned vegetarianism and can’t eat a single dish he/she cooked. Best to speak up early in strict cases—yes, even if they don’t ask—and offer to bring something.


4. Clean before pie

A mammoth pile of dishes isn’t daunting if everyone pitches in, so pour yet another glass of wine and tackle the first round of pans before slicing the pie. That way there’s more stomach room for dessert, and you can slip into a guilt-free food coma at the end.


5. Start traditions

Friendsgiving doesn’t have to be a haphazard "orphan" gathering. If you have a blast, offer to host a similar gathering the next year. If your stuffing was the talk of the party, send everyone a copy of the recipe. Friends can be family, too.

Posted at 03:31 PM/ET, 11/18/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Where to find full feasts, sides, pies, and more. By Caroline Cunningham
Take a full feast to go, or just pick up a few Thanksgiving pies and sides. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Putting together a Thanksgiving feast is not for the faint of heart. Why not outsource a few dishes—or the entire meal—to the pros? Washington's chefs are eager to brine your birds, dish up your sides, prepare your pies, and, in one case, fry turkeys for free.


Acadiana

901 New York Ave., NW

The feast: Take home a whole Southern-style feast or just the bird from this Louisiana-inspired eatery. The Cajun-style turkey, with your choice of giblet or eggplant gravy, comes with four sides—think sweet potato purée, oyster stuffing, or collard greens—plus a pumpkin or pecan pie and biscuits with house-made pepper jelly.

Menu

Serves: Eight for $175; individual sides $12 each; 16- to 18-pound turkey $105.

Details: Place your order by 5 on November 20 pick up between 11 and 1 on November 27.


Al Dente

3201 New Mexico Ave., NW

The feast: This Italian four-course meal includes butternut squash half-moon pasta, and a sausage and chestnut-stuffed turkey, with an apple bread pudding to top it all off.

Menu

Serves: Portions vary by order, $35 per person.

Details: Place your order before November 25 to have your feast ready for pickup on November 26.


Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery

1515 N. Courthouse Rd., Arlington

The feast: Grab Louisiana-style sides, sweets, and snacks to round out your meal, from spicy candied pecans to bourbon-chocolate chip pies, buttermilk biscuits, and a range of savory dishes (dirty rice and mac and cheese should do just fine).

Menu

Serves: Prices and portions vary by order.

Details: Order by phone 48 hours before pickup, which is offered before 1 on November 26. Orders placed before Thursday, November 13, receive a 10-percent discount.


BlackSalt

4883 MacArthur Blvd., NW

The feast: One of the largest Thanksgiving catering restaurant menus boasts everything from fresh turkeys to seasoned birds, spiral-cut ham, oysters, starters such as mini crabcakes, sides, and dessert.

Menu

Serves: Prices and portions may vary by order.

Details: Order between now and November 23 to have your feast scheduled for pick up on November 26.


Blue Duck Tavern

1201 24th St., NW

The feast: Take the Thanksgiving meal up a notch with this gourmet spread, including a 10- to 12-pound roasted free-range turkey, freshly baked bread, and four sides, such as cornbread stuffing with chorizo and cauliflower gratin, and—if you still have room—both an apple and a pumpkin pie.

Menu

Serves: Six to eight ($350).

Details: Place your order online by November 21 at 5, and your feast will be ready for pick up November 26 from 1 to 5, or November 27 from 11 to 2.


Buttercream Jubilee!

301 Water St., SE

The Feast: Buttercream Bakeshop’s pastry chef/owner Tiffany MacIsaac teams up with Ice Cream Jubilee for a sweet Thanksgiving pop-up. Pies, take-and-bake scones, ice cream sandwich kits, and more can be preordered, and you can also snag pints of festively flavored ice cream such as salty apple-cinnamon and pumpkin-honeycomb.

Menu

Serves: Prices and portions vary by order.

Details: Pickup on Thursday, November 20, from noon to 7; Tuesday, November 25, from noon to 6; Wednesday, November 26, from noon to 3:30. See page for preordering information.

Carmine's

425 Seventh St., NW

The feast: A traditional family-style affair to-go (or eat-in), which includes an 18-pound bird and sides like sweet potatoes with marshmallows.

Menu

Serves: Eight for $239.95 (or about $30 per person).

Details: Call for pick-up and order information.


Chef Geoff's

Multiple Locations

Menu

The feast: Dine on a spread of orange-glazed turkey with chicken sausage and sour cherry stuffing, roasted garlic and buttermilk mashed potatoes, Brussels sprouts, green beens with caramelized shallots, port wine cranberry sauce, and a pumpkin pie.

Serves: Serves four ($120).

Details: Order online for pickup at any Chef Geoff's location on Thanksgiving Day between noon and 5.


The Hay-Adams

800 16th St., NW

The feast: Display a pretty pie from pastry chef Josh Short, which comes with a marble-and-glass display stand and recipe. Choose from three options: a Virginia sweet potato and italian meringue tart, Texas pecan tart with Catoctin Creek brandy cream and chocolate leaves, and Virginia honey-apple tart with cranberries, rolled oats streusel, and caramel.

Serves: Eight, depending on slice size, for $50 (includes the stand).

Details: Place orders the evening prior to pickup, November 27 through 30.

Hill Country Barbecue Market

410 Seventh St., NW

The feast: Choose between two BBQ pick-up packages: the "rancher's feast," which includes five house sides, a nine-inch pie, and a pit-smoked turkey, or the "governor's banquet," which adds three additional sides, a pie, and skillet cornbread to the deal. Items are also available a la carte.

Menu

Serves: The rancher's feast serves five to eight ($210), and the governor's banquet feeds nine to 12 ($300).

Details: Call by November 22 to place your order for pickup on November 26 from 3 to 5, or Thanksgiving Day from 9 to noon.

Joe's Seafood, Prime Steak & Stone Crab

750 15th St., NW

The feast: Leave dessert to Joe's this year, choosing from their selection of ten pies, including sweet potato-pecan, pumpkin chiffon, and key lime.

Menu

Serves: Pies are $29.95 each.

Details: Place your order 24 hours prior to pickup.


Kapnos

2201 14th St., NW

The feast: Chef Mike Isabella caters a Mediterranean-style with spit-roasted rotisserie turkeys, lemony potatoes, charred Brussels sprouts, and Greek mac and cheese with feta and dill.

Menu

Serves: Turkeys, sides, and desserts ordered separately (prices vary).

Details: Place your order by November 23, and pick up on Thanksgiving Day between 9 and noon.


Macon Bistro & Larder

5520 Connecticut Ave., NW

The feast: Bring some southern comfort to the table with Macon Bistro & Larder's "Thanksgiving kit," which includes three sides, such as mac and cheese and collard greens. Biscuits and pies can also be added to the order.

Serves: Four ($40). Biscuits ($20) and pies ($25 each) may be added.

Details: Order over the phone by November 21 for pickup on November 25 or 26.


Medium Rare

515 Eighth St., SE

The feast: Medium Rare owner Mark Bucher moves his free deep-frying turkey tradition to Barracks Row this year. Complimentary hot cider, coffee, and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade viewing will be available during your wait.

Serves: It’s BYO turkey (eight to ten pounds), and the frying is free. Just make sure it’s fully defrosted beforehand, and that you have a container to bring it home in.

Details: Stop by on Thanksgiving Day between 11 and 2 for first come, first fry service.


Pearl Dive Oyster Palace

1612 14th St., NW

The feast: Pick up Addie’s dinner rolls or pies, available in flavors like Key lime, pecan, apple, and sweet potato.

Menu

Serves: 6 to 8 ($25-$30). Rolls are $8 for a dozen.

Details: Order online by November 24 for pickup on November 25 and 26.


RareSweets

963 Palmer Alley., NW

The feast: Get a taste of CityCenter’s new sweet shop prior to opening with pastry chef Meredith Tomason’s holiday catering lineup. Thanksgiving specials include a morning breakfast spread with the likes of pumpkin crumb cake and cider doughnuts, plus festive three-, six-, or nine-inch cakes such as a vanilla bean variety filled with cranberry compote and topped with orange-blossom icing.

Menu

Serves: Three-inch cakes are $6, six-inch cakes are $50, and nine-inch cakes are $70. Breakfast serves ten ($70) or 16 ($95).

Details: Orders must be placed by phone (202-499-0077) or e-mail (info@raresweets.com) by 4 on November 21.


Red Apron and Buzz Bakery

Multiple locations

The feast: Red Apron’s Nathan Anda has collaborated with Fields of Athenry to bring free-range heritage turkeys to your table, along with pork roast, charcuterie boards, and riffs on traditional sides such as garlic confit fingerling potatoes and cranberry mostarda. Sister bakery Buzz supplies the likes of bourbon-pecan pie.

Menu

Serves: The turkey ranges in size from eight to 20 pounds ($9 per pound). Buy it brined for $10 a pound. Price and portion for side items vary based on order.

Details: Preordering online (which ends at noon on November 25) is recommended. Pickup is available at Red Apron’s Union Market, Penn Quarter, and Mosaic District locations November 25 through 27.


Ris

2275 L St., NW

The feast: Choose from chef Ris Lacoste’s 19 sides and 11 sweets, available for pickup at her restaurant. Take home a quart of butternut squash soup or sweet potato and sherried onion gratin, or try a pumpkin, pecan, or apple pie.

Menu

Serves: Prices and portions vary by order.

Details: Fill out the online form or order by e-mail by November 23 to have your sides and sweets ready for pickup on November 25 to 26 from 2 to 5.


Society Fair

277 S. Washington St., Alexandria

The feast: Chef Cathal Armstrong offers a locally sourced, full Thanksgiving meal for those dining a deux. Pop the seasoned and stuffed turkey breast into the oven, and warm generous pints of mashed potatoes, bacon-roasted Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, and more.

Menu

Serves: Two for $85 (note: wine sold separately).

Details: Pick up on November 25 or 26 between noon and close.

Posted at 11:10 AM/ET, 11/11/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Discounts and freebies for military personnel, mimosas for all. By Anna Spiegel
Find specials and brunch this Veterans Day. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Brunch

The Black Squirrel

2427 18th St., NW

The Adams Morgan spot opens at noon and serves all-you-can-eat mussels all day.

EatWell DC Restaurants

Multiple locations

All of the restaurant group's concepts except for the Pig serve brunch, including Logan Tavern, Grillfish, Commissary, and more.

Founding Farmers

1924 Pennsylvania Ave., NW; 12505 Park Potomac Ave., Potomac

Anyone can stop in for brunch between 7 and 2, or lunch starting at 11. Active and retired military personnel with a valid ID can receive 50 percent off the meal for brunch, lunch, and dinner.

Kangaroo Boxing Club

3410 11th St., NW

The neighborhood spot opens for brunch from 11 to 3, with a 20-percent discount for anyone showing a military ID.

Silo

919 5th St., NW

Fancy bottomless mimosas on a Tuesday? Head in for brunch.


Specials/discounts

Alexandria's Vets Gotta Eat!

Multiple locations

More than 40 restaurants and bars in Alexandria extend 10- to 20-percent discounts for veterans and their families Tuesday through November 16. Participants include Dairy Godmother, RedRocks Pizzeria, Virtue Feed & Grain, and more.

BLT Steak

1625 I St., NW

Any veteran or active military member receives a 50-percent discount for parties of two or less, and a 25-percent discount for groups of three or more.

Duke's Grocery

1513 17th St., NW

Active and retired military and their spouses can snag a free beer.

Fiola

601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Head to the haute Italian for pre-concert lunch specials in the bar area and lounge until 4.

GCDC

1730 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Vets and active-duty members can stop by for a free grilled-cheese sandwich from 11 to 1 (note that the eatery will close early for the holiday at 3).

Georgetown Cupcake

Multiple locations

Anyone can score a free cupcake by asking for the off-menu special: Veterans Day vanilla (limit one per customer).

Mintwood Place

1813 Columbia Rd., NW

The French-American brasserie will live-stream the Concert for Valor all evening.

Mission BBQ

Multiple locations

This barbecue joint, which supports veterans with fundraisers and service projects throughout the year, offers free sandwiches and cake to vets.

Rock & Roll Hotel

1353 H St., NE

Feeling like a Tuesday party? All current and former members of the military can head in for a free PBR and shot of whiskey.

Zaika

2800 Clarendon Blvd., Arlington

Anyone with a military ID can receive 40 percent off on food only. A similar promotion extends for the rest of the year, though with a 10-percent discount.

Posted at 03:09 PM/ET, 11/10/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Luxurious feasts and homey meals at some of Washington's top spots. By Anna Spiegel
Vidalia is one of several Washington classics serving Thanksgiving dinner. Photograph by Erick Uecke.

Increasingly more Washington restaurants are serving Thanksgiving meals come November 27, so it can be tough to decide where to spend Turkey Day. A good place to start: the eateries on our 100 Best list (note: Not every one open for Thanksgiving is included here). Whether you're looking for an all-you-can-eat feast, an elegant tasting menu, or a homey meal, here are some of our favorite spots from 2014.

Ardeo + Bardeo

3311 Connecticut Ave., NW

Stop in for a three-course new American menu that won't break the bank, with dishes like shrimp and grits, braised pork cheeks over polenta, and buttermilk doughnuts in addition to the regular Turkey Day fare. An à-la-carte menu is served at the bar.

Details: $45 for adults; $25 children ten and under.

BLT Steak

1625 I St., NW

A multi-course, family-style tasting menu includes the classics (turkey, stuffing) as well as dishes such as kabocha-squash risotto, dry-aged prime rib, and striped bass with kohlrabi and cranberry. Don’t feel like getting fancy? The restaurant serves Thanksgiving leftovers in popover form on Black Friday.

Details: $68 for adults; 40 for children. Served 3 to close.

Blue Duck Tavern

1201 24th St., NW

This airy Park Hyatt restaurant combines generous buffets for appetizers and dessert, with plated entrées in between. Guests start with seasonal salads, shellfish, and meats and cheeses, followed by mains such as turkey and prime rib, shareable sides, and a variety of sweets to finish.

Details: $100 for adults; $45 for children six and under. Served 11:30 to 9.

Bourbon Steak

2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

A three-course menu includes holiday riffs on steakhouse classics—chilled oysters with cranberry mignonette, prime rib—as well as the signature lobster pot pie.

Details: $110 per person; $50 for children six to 12. Served 2 to 8.

Brabo by Robert Weidmaier

1600 King St., Alexandria

This elegant Old Town restaurant serves a three-course tasting menu with riffs on traditional dishes like sweet potato gnocchi with duck confit, roast heritage turkey with leg roulade and giblet gravy, and pumpkin crème brûlée.

Details: $70 per person.

Central

1001 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Thanksgiving gets a French touch courtesy of Michel Richard, who serves a three-course menu for a (comparably) moderate price. Several choices for appetizers, entrées, and desserts include chestnut velouté with duck confit, steak frites (alongside the traditional bird), and Michel’s chocolate bar.

Details: $45 per adult; $25 for children. Served 2 to 8.

Corduroy

1122 Ninth St., NW

Spend the holiday at a Washington classic, which serves a three-course set menu with four or five selections for each phase. Turkey is served alongside chef Tom Power’s classics.

Details: $60 per person.

Fiola

601 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Chef Fabio Trabocchi puts an Italian twist on the holiday, with a three course menu featuring tuna carpaccio with smoked caviar, pine-roasted lamb with black truffles, and a mascarpone pumpkin bar. A plus for luxury-seekers: optional Alba white truffles.

Details: $80 per adult; $28 for children.

Inn at Little Washington

309 Middle St., Washington

One of the most decadent Thanksgiving meals is found at the inn, where chef Patrick O'Connell serves a multi-course tasting menu with some traditional touches (the "spruced-up" turkey has been a favorite in the past).

Details: Menus begin at $198 per person; reservations begin at 1.

Mintwood Place

1813 Columbia Rd., NW

Chef Cedric Maupillier offers the chance to go à la carte on Thanksgiving amid many tasting menus, with a lineup of appetizers ($14), entrées ($24), desserts ($8), and complimentary family-style sides. Mintwood classics—steak tartare, wood-grilled dorade, and brownie sundaes—are offered alongside traditional turkey and stuffing.

Details: À la carte; noon to 8.

Oval Room

800 Connecticut Ave., NW

Chef Tony Conte serves a three-course holiday menu with creative New American dishes like scallop crudo with cranberries, and crispy salmon with horseradish and truffle vinaigrette.

Details: $50 per person (surcharges can apply for certain dishes); served noon to 8:30.

Rasika/Rasika West End

633 D St., NW; 1190 New Hampshire Ave., NW

Looking for something a little different? Try Indian-style Thanksgiving specials, such as dum ka turkey hot pot with saffron and cashews at West End, or turkey salli in Penn Quarter cooked with apricots and potatoes ($16 each).

Details: À la carte. Both are open from 11:30 to 2:30 for lunch, 5 to 10 for dinner.

Restaurant at Patowmack Farm

42461 Lovettsville Rd., Lovettsville

Chef Tarver King is known for crafting avant-garde dishes using local ingredients, including many harvested and foraged on the property. Thanksgiving menus have not yet been released, but you can expect more of the same.

Details: $79 per person. Served noon to 4.

Restaurant 1789

1226 36th St., NW

Get into the holiday mood at this historic Georgetown spot, which serves an à-la-carte menu with dishes such as fried oysters and maple-glazed ham, as well as a three-course traditional turkey supper.

Details: À la carte, or $54 for three courses.

2941

2941 Fairview Park Dr., Falls Church

Both meat-eaters and vegetarians alike will find three-course set menus from chef Bertrand Chemel, including a turkey entrée for carnivores and a bountiful plate of roasted squash, cauliflower amandine, fried Brussels sprouts, and more for the meatless crowd.

Details: $69 per person; $50 for vegetarian; $25 for children 12 and under. Served 11 to 8.

Table

903 N St., NW

Don't feel like tasting menus? Try chef Frederik De Pue's all-you-can-eat feast with turkey, beef tenderloin, salmon tartiflette, stuffings, and a variety of veggie sides.

Details: $95 per person; $35 children 12 and under. Served in three seatings (11:30, 1:20, and 3:30).

Vidalia

1990 M St., NW

Go Southern for Turkey Day at this Washington classic, which serves an à-la-carte menu with oyster pan roasts, glazed pork rib chops, mac and cheese, and more.

Details: À la carte. Served noon to 8.

Posted at 01:16 PM/ET, 11/05/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Fill your Monday with mimosas. By Anna Spiegel
Make Monday feel like Sunday with Bayou Bakery's breakfast biscuit sandwiches. Photograph by Scott Suchman.

While not all of us are lucky enough to have the "discovery" of America counted as a work holiday, those who do should spend an ideal Monday sipping mimosas and indulging in all-you-can-eat buffets.


Bayou Bakery

1515 N. Courthouse Rd., Arlington

Chef David Guas keeps Sunday hours on Columbus Day, serving all-day breakfast from 8 to 4 with biscuit sandwiches, beignets, and other Louisiana-style fare.


B Too and Belga Café

1324 14th St., NW/514 Eighth St., SE

Both of Bart Vandaele’s Belgian-style eateries serve a long-lasting Monday brunch from 9 to 4. Starting the week with mussels and waffles—not to mention a mussel-waffle—can't hurt.


Copperwood Tavern

4021 Campbell Ave., Shirlington

An extensive brunch from 10 to 4 can be as simple as a local egg omelet or a decadent mix of French toast sticks, short-rib Benedicts, and a sampling of the Bloody Mary bar.


EatWell DC restaurants

Multiple locations

All of this restaurant group’s locations serve Monday brunch, including tasty breakfast quesadillas at Commissary, bacon-filled eats at the Pig, fresh fruit smoothies at the Heights, and more.


Farmers Fishers Bakers

3000 K St., NW

Spend your holiday on the Georgetown Waterfront picking from an extensive brunch buffet, which includes salads, eggs, French toast, tacos, jambalaya, and more ($30 per person; $15 kids six to 12).


Founding Farmers

Multiple locations

All locations in Maryland and DC are open for Columbus Day brunch, with plenty of American fare like local egg scrambles, fried chicken, red velvet pancakes, and more.


Gypsy Soul

8296 Glass Alley, Fairfax

Why not check out a new restaurant on your day off? Chef RJ Cooper's brunch-time lineup includes an unusual variety of Bloodys (we like the idea of tequila and blistered peppers), Southern dishes such as an oyster pan roast or blueberry flapjacks, and a whole menu section devoted to mac and cheese.


Lavagna

539 Eighth St., SE

Head to Capitol Hill for Italian in honor of Cristoforo Colombo. The brunch menu includes bottomless mimosas for only $12, local egg Florentines, and focaccia toast.

Pearl Dive

1612 14th St., NW

This may be one of the best Mondays in Pearl Dive history: brunch from 11 to 3, trailed by happy hour from 3 to 7, and "oyster mania" from 5 to 11 with half-price bivalves on the half-shell and hot oyster appetizers for $6.


Richard Sandoval Restaurants

Multiple locations

All of restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s DC spots serve their indulgent all-you-can-eat-and-drink brunches for the holiday, meaning margs and tacos at both locations of El Centro D.F., Latin-Asian fusion at Masa 14, Balkan-style plates at Ambar, and more.


Sona Creamery

660 Pennsylvania Ave., SE

Start the week off with comfort fare like tomato soup and a grilled mac-and-cheese-stuffed sandwich. Brunch runs from 10 to 3, so there’s plenty of time.

Posted at 09:00 AM/ET, 10/13/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Ditch the Starbucks “PSL” for the real deal. By Caroline Cunningham, Emma Foehringer Merchant
Baked and Wired’s Pumpkin Shmumkin ice cream sandwich. Photograph by Anna Spiegel.

After a bike ride among the fall leaves along the W&OD Trail, stop in at Old Ox Brewery (44652 Guilford Dr., Ashburn) located just off the path and equipped with racks. The tasting room pours pints of the Oxorcist, the brewery's seasonal brown pumpkin ale made with 100 pounds of gourds and gently spiced with 50 boxes of graham crackers.

Shaw's new Uprising Muffin Company (1817 Seventh St., NW) offers pumpkin muffins year-round, but you can make it super-seasonal on Wednesday and Saturday, when the baked good gets topped with candied walnuts and a pumpkin-spice glaze.

Feeling chilly? Cozy up with a book, a hot drink, and a slice of pumpkin pie topped with cinnamon ice cream at an old Dupont favorite, Kramerbooks & Afterwords Cafe (1517 Connecticut Ave., NW).

We’re fans of warming up on a brisk afternoon with a cup of Soupergirl’s (314 Carroll St., NW; 1829 M St., NW) locally sourced, vegan soups at both the Takoma Park and Dupont locations. A tasty fall option: the chunky pumpkin-and-black-bean soup, spiced with cumin, cinnamon, and ginger.

Georgetown Cupcake (multiple locations) boasts a pumpkin-spice cupcake, but don’t let the name deceive you—the real pumpkin-y goodness is found in the dense, moist pumpkin cheesecake with maple-cream cheese frosting.

On the lingering warm days with summer-like temperatures, try Baked and Wired’s (1052 Thomas Jefferson St., NW) Pumpkin Shmumkin ice cream sandwich—a thick round of zesty pumpkin ice cream smashed between two molasses-ginger cookies.

Toast to the season with Estadio's (1524 14th St., NW) pumpkin, Scotch, black tea, and smoked-paprika slushito. The frosty beverage may not keep you warm, but it's plenty festive.

Get the best of the fall dessert and cocktail worlds at Daikaya (705 Sixth St., NW), where crispy fried-pumpkin karaage with five-spice yogurt can be washed down with a bourbon-based spiced pumpkin mule.

For on-the-go goodness, try a pumpkin-spice cupcake, made with real pumpkin and topped with cream cheese frosting, from the Sweetbites food truck (locations change daily; get our Food Trucks newsletter to find it each day).

Spice up your Sunday brunch with pumpkin pancakes topped with ginger butter and chili-infused maple syrup at Agua 301 (301 Water St., SE).

Summer meets fall at El Centro D.F. (1218 Wisconsin Ave., NW; 1819 14th St., NW), where you can sit outside and sip a pumpkin margarita. Tequila gets infused with anise, clove, and cinnamon-spiced pumpkin purée for a week and is then mixed with chili-ginger syrup and given a cinnamon-sugar rim. Cheers!

Posted at 10:24 AM/ET, 10/07/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()
Ring in 5775 with tasty eats, drinks, and a New Year's party. By Anna Spiegel
Dino's may have moved, but it still celebrates the Jewish holidays with plenty of Italian dishes. Photograph by Jeff Elkins.

Celebrity Delly

7263 Arlington Blvd., Falls Church

This Falls Church institution, in business for 38 years, offers holiday catering platters. The Rosh Hashanah menu serves a minimum of ten people for $22.95 per person (smaller groups are $23.95). All orders of an appetizer, entrée, and two sides come with matzo-ball soup, tzimmes, and challah.


DGS Delicatessen

1317 Connecticut Ave., NW

A fall harvest-themed menu from chef Brian Robinson starts with a loaf of fresh challah for the table, followed by four courses including squash kreplach and roasted duck with spaetzle and plum gastrique ($40; $58 with wine pairings). A High Holiday catering menu is also available through October 6.

When: Wednesday, September 24, through Friday, September 26.


Dino's Grotto

1914 Ninth St., NW

Dino's may have changed locations, but it's still celebrating all the Jewish holidays with Italian and Gold-family dishes. A five-course menu features chopped-liver crostini, Tuscan spice-rubbed brisket, and more ($44; $19 for kids under 13).

When: Wednesday, September 24, at 4:30 through Friday, September 26.


Equinox

818 Connecticut Ave., NW

The New Jewish Table cookbook authors Todd and Ellen Gray roll out a three-course menu ($48; $70 with wine pairings). Seasonal dishes include curried butternut squash soup and an apple tart with Manischewitz sorbet. 

When: Wednesday, September 24, at 4:30 through Friday, September 26.


Heckman's Delicatessen

4914 Cordell Ave., Bethesda

Looking to throw a party at home without too much hassle? This Bethesda eatery offers catering platters with High Holiday discount pricing if ordered by September 25. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert are all covered.


Logan Tavern

1423 P St., NW

Sadly, this wallet-friendly option for dining pre-services on Wednesday is sold out, but you can still sign up for space on the waitlist. Should you get in, you'll have an appetizer buffet starting at 6, followed by a seated dinner at 6:45 with dishes such as salmon with Israeli couscous or brisket ($36 per person; $50 with wine pairings). 

When: Wednesday, September 24, at 6. 

Sixth & I New Year's Eve Party

801 K St., NW

Sixth & I hosts the week's most rockin' celebration, with a bash on Erev Rosh Hashanah at the Carnegie Library starting at 8. The party features live music from Black Masala, plus festive eats and drinks. Tickets are $36; the event is recommended for a crowd in their twenties and thirties.

 

Find Anna Spiegel on Twitter at @annaspiegs.

Posted at 10:00 AM/ET, 09/24/2014 | Permalink | Comments ()